US women's team takes first step toward Rio Olympics berth

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Jordan Larson returned with fanfare to her home state of Nebraska and helped lead the world No. 1 U.S. women's volleyball team to a straight-set victory over Canada on Thursday night in the opener of its NORCECA Olympic qualifying tournament.

The Americans overwhelmed the 16th-ranked and lowest seed Canadians with their depth and powerful attack in the 25-18, 25-18, 25-15 victory at Pinnacle Bank Arena to take the first step toward earning a berth into this summer's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

In the second set, Nicole Fawcett's service ace put the U.S. up 23-17 and Kelsey Robinson's kill soon ended it, then Fawcett made a kill on match point. Coach Karch Kiraly's 14-player squad this week features five players who settled for silver at the London Olympics in a disappointing defeat to Brazil.

In Friday night's lineup for the round-robin event, the U.S. takes on No. 15 Puerto Rico, a four-set loser in Thursday's opening match to the seventh-ranked Dominican Republic - 17-25, 25-13, 25-23, 25-23.

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